YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: Lauryn Hill admitted in federal court in Newark that she ducked three years of income tax returns on more than $1.6 million of income.
The South Orange, N.J., Grammy winner, originally charged on June 7, waived a trial and accepted a plea bargain from the government.
It was approved by U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael Shipp.
Although the conviction carries up to a year in prison, Hill likely will be sentenced to probation and ordered to make good with the IRS, including interest, penalties and court costs on Nov. 27.
The 37-year-old onetime Fugees member admitted that she didn’t pay taxes for calendar years 2005, when she made a reported $818,000, in 2006 ($222,000) or in 2007 ($761,000).
Hill’s net worth has been reported at more than $8.7 million from her record sales, tours and investments in Jamaica. Her primary source of income, federal prosecutors in Newark said, are royalties from the recording and film industries.
Hill first came to audience’s attention with the Fugees. Then, in 1998, she released the blockbuster solo album “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill,” which earned five Grammy Awards, including the prestigious Album of the Year and Best New Artist.
But fame turned her away from public performing. After four years out of the spotlight, she did an MTV “Unplugged” gig that produced the live album “No. 2.0.”
Michelle Obama told the BBC that she frequently listens to Hill’s music on her iPod, and Sen. John McCain’s daughter, Meghan, once told an interviewer that he dad listens to her: “I borrowed his car once in D.C., and I was looking through [his] CDs, and I was like, ‘Oh, Lauryn Hill.’”
Hill has done soundtrack recordings and mixtapes, while performing here and there at festivals, in recent years.
Hill, who moved back in with her mother and children in South Orange, has five children, five of them with one of reggae great Bob Marley’s sons, Rohan.
U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman credited special agents with IRS-Criminal Investigation with the work leading to the charges. The case is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sandra L. Moser of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Special Prosecutions Division in Newark.